Thursday, June 11, 2015

In Memory

Old plants from Hopewell Cemetery, Howard County IN

Gardens and gardening are as old as the Biblical Garden of Eden or included in secular data from around 10,000 BC.  Either way man figured out if they planted useful plants close to themselves, life was easier.

Purposeful planting may have only been for easy access to food, building supplies and for controlling nature.  It may still be in underdeveloped nations.

The advent of gardens purely for aesthetic purposes came from wealthy individuals and Egyptian tomb paintings of the 16th century BC were among the first recorded.

I found it difficult to find the history of using plants to memorialize someone.  The most used plant in public memorials is a tree.  Grand estates, municipal public land and private institutions seem to have the most recorded history. 

Hopewell Cemetery
Some have planted the memorials themselves and others take donations “in memory” of a person and then plant a tree.  Often these are accompanied with plaques or stones engraved with the information.  Church grounds, cemeteries and parks have been forested with memorial donations.

Often we see well-meant memorial tree planting being removed because there was no guide to what would be safe and appropriate.  Planting a tree that grows to fifty-foot under an electrical line will insure it will not be there forever or the intended beauty will be pruned out. 

Galva Illinois Park District
Where am I going with this?  When memorializing someone, consider planting a tree or donating for that purpose. 

Most municipalities, park districts, cemeteries and many schools, zoos, historical sites and institutions would love to accept a tree memorial gift.  Ask first if they would welcome this donation, but I suspect you will find most will gladly accept.  Realize trees are not cheap nor are memory markers (should you want one) so unless they have a permanent fund established to cover the extra expense, you will need to cover the cost in your donation.

Or, give a nursery gift certificate for a tree to the family who has lost a loved one.  They may then buy a tree that will symbolize their love or the memory.  They could also donate it to a local establishment to plant a tree. 

Pear Tree in my yard in memory of my dad.
We have a beautiful Pyrus calleryana “Chanticleer” ornamental pear tree in our yard donated by our church in memory of my father.  It not only brings memories of my father but of the church members’ kindness when I look at that beautiful tree.

More and more we are seeing a family request no flowers at funerals.  We’re also noticing some folks prefer no services.  They may not suggest other ways to donate in memory.  One option is a memory tree.

Even if there are no donated monies, planting a tree specifically to honor or memorialize a loved one makes a nice reminder in your own yard.  I suggested trees because they are long lived but other perennials would also work in a private garden.  As I’ve mentioned before, I have a whole bed of daylilies with family names.  It brings a smile and a memory when they bloom.

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